Lynne Jonell's Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
Children's book review by Sarah Dempsey.
Length: 346 pages
I recommend this book for a child who has recently gone through a major life change, such as moving, or changing schools.
The Nanny is Up to Something
Emmy fondly remembered the days before her parents inherited a very large fortune from her great-great uncle. She remembered having friends at school, joyful nights at her parent’s bookshop, and eating dinner as a family. But that was all before they moved into the big house on the water, before her parents constantly traveled, and before her nanny, Miss Barmy.
Its strange how everything changed the day they met Miss Barmy. Something is a little devious about this woman. Nannies are supposed to be loving and kind, like a grandmother or favorite aunt. There is just one word to describe Miss Barmy: frightening. Emmy can’t quite put her finger on it, but she knows her nanny has something to do with why her life is so miserable. With a little help, and a lot of courage, she sets off to find out what.
I picked up Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat and skimmed the first twenty pages. Then, I could not help but read twenty more. Before I knew it, it was two o’clock in the morning and I was up to my elbows in a conspiracy of uniquely gifted rodents, an imposter, and the mastermind, Miss Barmy.
I felt a connection with Emmy. I moved quite a bit as a kid and knew what it was like to be the new girl in school; trying to make new friends. Granted, I never talked to the classroom pet rat, but we each have our own quirks.
Sometimes Being Good is a Bad Thing
Emmy was a good girl, and she did everything she was told in hopes her parents would stay home for more than a few days. She had good grades, and took piano and dance, but no one seemed to notice or remember really, until, that is, she met Ratson.
Ratson was foul tempered and a bit whiny, but he spoke to Emmy and that was more than the kids in her class. Did it really matter that he was the class pet?
Emmy thought she was going crazy when a rat, named Ratson, started talking to her. Little did she know his friendship would change her life. Quite suddenly, she was breaking the rules, riding on chipmunks, and teaching the adults a few lessons of her own. With a friend like Ratson on her side, Emmy could do anything; even take on her devious nanny, Miss Barmy.
The change in Emmy from doing exactly what she’s told to standing up for herself was the catalyst for all that unfolded in the story. This change from the good girl to being “bad”, suddenly thinking for herself and challenging what she was told by adults, made her a heroine. Without breaking that first rule, how can we say that she would ever have accomplished her courageous feats? After all, being bad when you are nothing but good requires a great deal of bravery.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is an incredibly interesting story. It is a tale of how a young girl’s loneliness and longing for companionship leads to the unlikeliest of friendships and strangest of adventures. With the help of a few rodent friends, Emmy fights to save her family.
I was swept away by this story. Everything from Pawball, to the Rodent City stirred the imagination and fueled the life of the book. Ratson’s songs, the plots of Miss Barmy, and all the interesting affects of the rodent powers made Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat a very enjoyable read. To put it lightly, this book was FUN.
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